Saturday, January 3, 2015


Marion Davies is remembered mostly for being the mistress of paper tycoon William Randolph Hearst and reportedly she got many of her roles in Hollywood from her connection to Hearst. However, she made some really enjoyable films in the 1920s and 1930s. One of the first movies I saw her in was an early Bing Crosby film Going Hollywood(1933). Davies even attempted to sing in that movie opus.

Marion Davies was born on this day - January 3rd - in 1897. Davies was born in Brooklyn, the youngest of five children born to Bernard J. Douras (1857–1935), a lawyer and judge in New York City; and Rose Reilly (1867–1928). Her elder siblings included Rose, Reine, and Ethel. A brother, Charles, drowned at the age of 15 in 1906. His name was subsequently given to Davies' favorite nephew, screenwriter Charles Lederer, the son of Davies' sister Reine Davies. The Douras family lived near Prospect Park in Brooklyn. The sisters changed their surname to Davies, which one of them spotted on a real-estate agent's sign in the neighborhood. Even at a time when New York was the melting pot for new immigrants, having a British surname greatly helped one's prospects – the name Davies has Welsh origins. Educated in a New York convent, Davies left school to pursue a career. She worked as a model and posed for illustrators Harrison Fisher and Howard Chandler Christy. In 1916, Davies was signed on as a Ziegfeld girl in the Ziegfeld Follies.

After making her screen debut in 1916, modelling gowns by Lady Duff-Gordon in a fashion newsreel, she appeared in her first feature film in the 1917 Runaway Romany. Davies wrote the film, which was directed by her brother-in-law, prominent Broadway producer George W. Lederer. The following year she starred in three films – The Burden of Proof, Beatrice Fairfax, and Cecilia of the Pink Roses. Playing mainly light comic roles, she quickly became a film personality appearing with major male stars, making a small fortune, which enabled her to provide financial assistance for her family and friends.

In 1918, Hearst started the movie studio Cosmopolitan Productions to promote Davies' career and also moved her with her mother and sisters into an elegant Manhattan townhouse at the corner of Riverside Drive and W. 105th Street. Cecilia of the Pink Roses in 1918 was her first film backed by Hearst. She was on her way to being the most infamously advertised actress in the world. During the next ten years she appeared in 29 films, an average of almost three films a year.  She remained devoted to William Randolph Hearst, and as the years went on her movie career vanished more and more. In Hearst's declining years, Davies provided financial as well as emotional support until his death in 1951. She married for the first time eleven weeks after his death, a marriage which lasted until Davies died of stomach cancer in 1961 at the age of 64...

No comments:

Post a Comment